Macbeth

by William Shakespeare
directed by Blanka Zizka
September 29, 2010November 13, 2010

Blog

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A Day in the Life of a Student Matinee

At 8:45am I entered at the Broad and Spruce Street entrance, meeting my caffeine-fortified co-workers who have arrived early to help greet our student patrons. It’s all hands on deck for the student matinees – including those in the offices, cast, and crew. Soon Javier, the sweet and sassy House Manager, throws open the doors, turns up the lobby lights, and the music on; the theater, inside and out, is transformed into show mode. Pavel Fajt’s contemporary drum and synthesized creations waft down the block, energizing passersby for the Wilma’s thrilling production of Macbeth.

So far, our Group Sales Manager Julie Cassidy has scheduled over 3,400 students, most of whom have attended one of our seven student matinees. Macbeth explodes our previous records, serving more students than our past two seasons (eight shows) combined! Education Director Anne Holmes and I have been training and arranging Teaching Artists and actors from the show to visit schools throughout Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs and lead high school and college students in pre and post show discussions. These workshops aim to empower students with a sense of ownership over certain characters, plot points, and language found in the play; generate interest in Macbeth by getting students to weigh in with their own opinions on some of the more charged themes in the play; prompt students to consider how some of the themes and plot points might be tackled in a live theater production (as opposed to say a film which is often their only point of reference); and introduce them to their role as an audience member.

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What are the 'witches'?

In preparing for our production of Macbeth, one of Blanka Zizka's first questions was "What are the 'witches' in the world of our production?" Witchcraft is not just a thing of the past, or a joke in the current campaign season. Here's a review of a book investigating how the notion of witchcraft remains alive as a means for stigmatizing women in societies wracked by social turmoil.

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On the set of Macbeth: MIMI LIEN

Set designer Mimi Lien was asked to share a few thoughts about the development of her scenic ideas and the influence of Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space:  I was struck by Bachelard’s notion that the different physical localities of the house are imbued with particular psychologies/memories/fears/desires...in our first conversations, Blanka mentioned that she was interested in making this a very visceral production of Macbeth – one that makes the text really palpable, and the actors' physicality totally present. I immediately thought of the spatial equivalent, which is when a space actually makes you feel something.  There’s a wonderful quote in the book: "Great images have both a history and a prehistory:  they are always a blend of memory and legend, with the result that we never experience an image directly." There are localities that are more heavily imbued with these feelings than others – hallways, closets, attics, basements.  These spaces are somehow repositories for memories, physical memories, and this makes them particularly potent for a play about fear. There’s another quote about the impact of a poem that’s very appropriate to this play, as well, in terms of the relationship of language to space: "The resonances are dispersed on the different planes of our life in the world, while the repercussions invite us to give greater depth to our own existence.